Sweet Pastry Crust:
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/8 cup (20 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (20 grams) cornstarch (corn flour)
3/4 tablespoon (10 ml) liqueur (Grand Marnier, Brandy, Kirsch) (optional)
Apricot Glaze: (optional)
1/2 cup (125 grams) apricot jam or preserves
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or water or combination of the two (can also use other liqueurs)
2 - 3 cups mixed fruit, such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, kiwifruit, bananas, plums, pineapple, melon, etc.
Sweet Pastry Crust: In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside. Place the butter in your mixer and beat until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated. Don't over mix or the butter will separate and lighten in color. Add flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Don't overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.
Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm.
Have ready an 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 11 - 12 inch (28 - 30 cm) circle that is about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry. The pastry should be about an inch larger than pan.
When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll. Unroll onto top of tart pan. Never pull pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan). Gently lay in pan and with a small floured piece of pastry, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan. Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry. With a thumb up movement, again press dough into pan. Roll rolling pin over top again to get rid of any extra pastry. Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill tart pan with pie weights, rice or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake crust for 20 to 25 minutes until crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove weights and cool crust on wire rack before filling.
Pastry Cream: In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a wooden spoon. (Never let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and cornstarch (corn flour) together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the milk and split vanilla bean on medium heat until boiling. (The milk will foam up to the top of pan when done, so watch carefully.) Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.) Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture. (The vanilla bean can be dried and placed in your sugar bowl to give the sugar a vanilla flavor. This sugar can then be used in baking where you would like a vanilla-flavored sugar, e.g. pies, cakes, cookies.)
Place the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes very thick and it is hard to stir.
Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the liqueur (if using). Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Beat before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.
Apricot Glaze: Heat the apricot jam or preserves and water (if using) in a small saucepan over medium heat until liquid (melted). Remove from heat and strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps. (If using, add the liqueur at this point.) Let cool until it is only slightly warm.
Variation: If glazing strawberries, raspberries or any other red fruit you can make a red currant glaze. Gently whisk 1/2 cup (125 grams) of red currant jelly over medium heat until melted. Let cool slightly and then lightly glaze the fruit using a pastry brush.
To Assemble Tart: To remove the tart from the fluted sides of the pan, place your hand under the pan, touching only the removable bottom not the sides. Gently push the tart straight up, away from the sides. The fluted tart ring will fall away and slide down your arm. If you want to remove the bottom of the pan, run a knife or thin metal spatula between the crust and metal bottom, then slide the tart onto a cardboard cake round.
Spread a thin layer of apricot glaze or melted chocolate over the bottom and sides of tart to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the glaze dry between 20 - 30 minutes. Spread the Pastry Cream into the tart, filling about 3/4 full. Level with an offset spatula.
To decorate the tart you will need 2 to 3 cups (480 - 620 ml) of mixed fresh fruit (such as berries, bananas, oranges, kiwifruit, plums, pineapple, and melon). Prepare the fruit by gently washing and drying. Peel and slice the bananas, plums and kiwifruit. The strawberries will need to be sliced also. Arranging the fruit on the tart can be done either randomly or in concentric overlapping circles, starting at the outside edge. Try to cover all the pastry cream with fruit so that no pastry cream is showing through.
After arranging the fruit, rewarm the glaze, if using, and gently brush a light coat on the fruit. Do not put it on too thick or it will look like Jell-O. Try not to get any glaze on the tart shell. The idea is to make the fruit look shiny. If not serving immediately, refrigerate. Take out about 30 minutes before serving to give the fruit and cream a chance to warm to room temperature.
This fruit tart is best eaten the same day as it is assembled. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.